Mom, They Don't Speak French

Susan Griesse has been a member of the HRS community for over a decade now. Her journey to HRS began when she started seeing signs her daughter Abbey wasn't learning to read like her peers.

After going through the lengthy and emotional testing and evaluation process, Abbey was diagnosed with dyslexia during first grade.

Through her work serving on the board of the French American School of Puget Sound, Susan was introduced to Joan Beauregard, who was also a board member. Located in Mercer Island, the French American School is a bilingual school and the family intended for Abbey to go there. When Susan shared the story of Abbey’s diagnosis, Joan suggested she look into the HRS summer school program. On that first day of summer school Susan remembers Abbey coming home and saying to her, “Mom, they don’t speak French at this school.” From that day forward, Susan could see a change in Abbey. Abbey began to see herself as someone who could succeed in school.

HRS summer school led to 2nd grade with Mrs. Massoth that fall. It was a turning point. Susan watched as Abbey regained total confidence in herself as a learner. She became motivated and was joyful about school. The style of teaching was right for Abbey, making it possible for her to accomplish incremental achievement. Although reading fluency came much later, it didn’t matter.

The foundational skills that Abbey learned were setting her up for long-term success.

She was building the tools she needed to better understand her own learning style. These tools are what she continues to use today as she prepares to enter college. Abbey has been accepted to Scripps, Cal Poly, Drexel, UW and many more amazing schools. She is thriving.

Aware of her previous school board experience, Susan was invited to join the HRS Board of Trustees, first as a member, and for the last two years, as the Board President. Susan will complete her term as president this spring. During her early service, she helped develop the current HRS strategic plan. She found this work to be motivating and invigorating. It was remarkable walking through the journey of the school; from where HRS was in the beginning, to the work being done today, to identifying what might be accomplished in the future.

What has been most rewarding? Susan says the expansion of the middle school is an incredible accomplishment. She knows how lucky she is to have had access to HRS. Through her own journey, she recognizes how important it is to reach more students, not just within the walls of the school, but through the Learning Center programs and beyond. Access is imperative.

Challenges? The pandemic and remote learning were difficult. She knew through experience just how hard the faculty and staff worked through this time to deliver on our specialized program. Through deep dedication and commitment, HRS was able to get students back to school as quickly and safely as possible.

Susan most identifies with the HRS value of perseverance.

Life isn’t always easy – and with Abbey, so many things about school were hard.

But by taking small, incremental steps, so much can be achieved. This is a life skill Abbey learned through her time at HRS and a skill she still uses every day. Things might take a little longer, and your journey might take a different path, but that is ok.

Susan’s time as a board member and HRS parent has been rewarding, and working with Stacy Turner, as Head of School, has been motivating. She recognizes his deep commitment and dedication to the school. Susan is ending her tenure with confidence in him, and the future of the school. “We are in very good hands,” she says.